Labour Day Thoughts
Went to a wedding last night. I couldn’t stop thinking, as I took in the magnitude of it, of the irony of expensive weddings of people whose marriages might end up in divorce. I think that people wish to cherish their memories of their wedding day so much, an experience of what is often considered the most important event of their lives, that even if they knew in advance that their marriage was doomed to fail, they would still go ahead with the big wedding.
I counted a team of wedding planners last night, patrolling every aspect of the event like coaches at the side of a playoff football game, and a team of very energetic videographers and photographers who were employed to make sure not a single sentimental moment was missed. There were countless waiters and waiter supervisors; even the band included eight members: two played keyboard; there were two saxophonists and one trumpeter working hard in the background, along with two guitar players (one electric bass, of course), two singers, and one drummer. (I enjoyed watching them more than the bride and groom dance the first awkward dance.)
Err, throw in a five-star hotel and its high quality food and open bar: Can you imagine how much this wedding cost? Still, weddings like this abound and the just-under-50% divorce rate has continued unabated over the years. In other words, this wedding might cost $25,000 per year that the marriage endures.
I’m not much of a wedding person. First of all, in Montreal, the custom is still, even when there are very few teenagers among the invitees, to play the music LOUD. You’d have to burn a few vocal chords to conduct a conversation during supper, a conversation being what you wish to have during the lulls between meal services. I’m quite shy with strangers seated beside me at the wedding meal, but I’ll be damned to try to start a conversation when I’d have to shout to be heard. As the evening progressed, I inched closer and closer to wife Naomi, who was engaged in a lively tête-à-tête with the friend of the groom’s mother, the husband half of a couple we’ve seen at all the important events, the bar and bat-mitzvahs as well as the weddings of the groom’s two older sisters.
I did manage to dance a couple of times, two slow and one fast, for which my wife called me a “good sport”, knowing how I usually loathe weddings, but had I not been so bushed from moving the day before, I would have danced even more, even if it did mean losing my hearing for a few hours.
Luckily, at this hotel, there’s a beautiful lobby to escape to, and I did a number of times, to enjoy the gas-fuelled fireplace, the fantastic mural of tropical plants on the ceiling, and what looked to be pre-Renaissance paintings on the walls. Even the little children, at that late hour, had more energy than I had last night. Naomi, grateful at what she considered the good sport that I supposedly was, allowed us to leave at 11 pm, which to me is like 2 am for most people.
My wedding to Naomi was a relatively simple affair. After all, it was her 2nd time (her big first one confirms my “theory” that the larger the wedding, the earlier the divorce. Just kidding! (I think…).) Her father generously donated his large home in Hampstead. The ritual under the chuppah outside, with a Reconstructionist rabbi doing the honours was, now that I think of it – and having witnessed a “normal” one last night – quite short. I think that I missed out on quite a lot of ceremony. The rabbi did tell us that he was fitting us in between two other events and maybe that’s why things seemed so rushed.
And I hadn’t memorized the short blessing I was supposed to say; I kind of flubbed it and the rabbi actually rolled his eyes at my poor attempt (normally, I read Hebrew quite well). This little act of non-verbal communication did not endear him to me, as you can imagine. Seventeen years later, when I introduced myself at Decarie Square where he was one day having lunch, he didn’t remember me…
Another mistake that I made was to try memorizing my thank-you speech. Big mistake. I had woken up quite early the morning of the wedding and by the time it arrived I was bleary-eyed and agitated. I forgot quite a bit of my speech and, can you believe it?, to this day I regret not having read my delightful address.
We only had a DJ for the dancing after the meal, when more people arrived to celebrate, but during the meal we had a nice jazz trio to accompany the diners. I remember, being the music fanatic that I am, emailing the DJ a list of bands and songs that I particularly liked and wished him to play. Another waste: he didn’t follow any of my suggestions!
For some reason, I was happy to see last night that there are still some wealthy, obviously quite successful people around. All power to them!
And all power to the happy, happy couple (I’m not being cynical). They obviously were in bliss last night, the centre of attention and the centre of their Universe. I wish them, and all newlyweds, heck, I wish all people in relationships these days all the bliss and joy that the Universe can offer.